My Pickup: My New Nissan

LE Frontier 1 II

Editor's note: My Pickup will be an occasional PUTC feature in which we invite readers, industry associates, friends and colleagues to write about their own pickups, either currently owned or from their past.

By Larry Edsall

When my son-in-law sold my 175,000-mile, 2000 Nissan Frontier out from under me last winter, I considered several options for its replacement.

After more than a decade, I'd been thinking it was time for a new vehicle, but when I drove from Arizona to Michigan in December 2012 on a two-week book research project, I didn't know my daughter's neighbors were looking for a well-maintained 4x4 and that I'd be driving home in a rental car.

The 2000 Frontier was my first pickup truck, and I've learned that once you've had a pickup, you cannot imagine life without one. I really liked the new Ram with its strong but fuel-efficient V-6 engine/eight-speed transmission powertrain, but at 5-foot-8 I can't reach into the bed of a full-size truck, nor will one fit into my surprisingly short garage.

Besides, I was very happy with my Frontier, and because I write about cars and have press-fleet vehicles to test, I could wait until the 2013 Frontiers were available.

And so I bought another Frontier, this time a two-wheel-drive SV crew cab rather than a four-wheel pickup. Not only did the two-wheel drive save money up front, there's no transfer case to maintain.

The factory-installed $1,900 SV Value Truck Package added rear sonar and rearview camera, dual-zone climate controls, fog lamps, bedliner, Utili-track channels with four adjustable tie-down cleats, a Class IV receiver hitch, sliding bed extender, interior mirror with compass and temperature display, vehicle security system, floor mats and cabin air filter.

I had the dealer install a set of side step rails, which had been standard equipment on the truck I bought 13 years earlier.

Standard equipment now includes 118 more horsepower, an extra gear in the transmission, four-wheel vented disc brakes (no rear drums), side and side-curtain airbags, vehicle dynamic control and active brake limited-slip technology, a tire-pressure monitoring system, satellite radio, USB connection and multiple 12-volt power ports, Bluetooth, built-in storage bins beneath the back seat and a light above the cargo bed.

I did not want a factory GPS system. Why spend all that money when you can buy a good portable unit for $130 that you can move from vehicle to vehicle?

I didn't think I'd like satellite radio, but I do. The added 12-volt outlets are much appreciated, and being able to talk hands-free is both convenient and a safety feature.

The rear seat bottoms flip up to provide easy access the storage bins, which I find handy, especially for stowing things such as those Utili-track tie-down cleats, which are amazingly stout. I didn't think I'd like the bed's Utili-track system, but that was before I actually used it. Once I did, I bought two more cleats for extra tie-down options. And if I might make a suggestion to Nissan: I wish there were tracks across the inside of the tailgate and not only in the floor and along three sides of the bed.

I use the Utili-track system a lot, as well as the sliding bed extender. My old truck had a fixed-position bed extender, but with the new Utili-track system you can use the extender to secure cargo anywhere inside the bed, not just over the tailgate.

Within a couple of weeks of buying the truck, I filled the bed and drove from Arizona to Florida, and from there to Michigan, where I unloaded my stuff and filled the truck with furniture to deliver to another daughter, who lives in New Jersey.

Over the course of this past summer, I've made three trips to New Jersey and also pulled a trailer from Michigan to Florida.

The new truck's extra power and revised gearing make climbing mountains and pulling a trailer much easier than in my old Frontier. They also make the new truck much more fuel efficient. I averaged around 19 mpg in my 2000 Frontier during my cross-country trips. In the 2013 version, I've averaged nearly 23 mpg overall, including a 16 mpg figure while pulling a loaded U-Haul. For comparison's sake, the EPA rates the 2013 Frontier at 17/23/19 mpg city/highway/combined for the two-wheel-drive automatic.

My new Frontier not only is better but it's bigger inside and about a foot longer — long enough that it just barely fits inside my garage. But it does fit — with a couple of inches to spare. And I like the fact that the extra length makes for a much roomier cabin.

What would I change about my truck? Other than wanting a Utili-track rail across the inside of the tailgate, about the only other change I'd make would be to turn my truck from a Frontier SV crew cab into a Frontier Pro-4X crew cab.

Yes, I saved money by opting for two-wheel drive, but that Pro-4X not only brings a four-wheel drivetrain, but an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, Rugged Trail tires and skid plates to protect the fuel tank, oil pan and transfer case.

I like my truck, but now that I'm home, I find I miss being able to explore Arizona's Sonoran Desert and those rocky mountain trails like I could in my old four-wheel-drive Frontier.

LE Frontier 2 II

LE Frontier 3 II



@Jeff S. - I have to expect that there will always be numbnuts on this site that will quote out of context to try to prove their point. I'm not afraid to speak my mind and many do not like that.
I do agree that in some cases, wanting a truck that will fit into a small garage makes sense BUT it shouldn't be the only determinant. If one lives in a confined urban area then other factors such as small driveways, narrow laneways, tight parking spots, and small garages are part of the big picture.

I've always purchased what I felt I needed and look at trucks with that philosophy, I've owned trucks of each class; small;1/2 ton; 3/4 ton. I've even owned a used small truck and a 4x2 van. I spent 21 years operating all sorts of 1 ton vans and chassis cab duallie conversions. I've even driven gravel trucks.

I'm open minded to everything but a closed mind.

Lou always says he was posted out of context when he gets busted.

Buys 4x2. Wishes he had gotten 4x4 instead.

Familiar story...

@Mike - This is from one of the threads that Nate took his quote from:

"Hey, nothing wrong with this kind of story. Funny how a "truck hater" bought one and loves it. I do agree that not every guy wants or needs a full sized truck, but the manufacturer's don't seem to think there is big enough a market to be worth meeting. It could be just another case of the dinosaurs at Detroit not willing to change the way they do business.
I've driven and owned both small and full sized pickups. Right now, I can't see myself in a small truck."

Like I said, my comments were quoted out of context.

Larry, maybe you can further explain how your son-in-law "sold my 175,000-mile, 2000 Nissan Frontier out from under me". Doesn't matter what "my daughter's neighbors" were looking for - either it was his to sell, or it wasn't and he broke the law. I don't care what relationship they are to me... if someone sells *my* property without my permission, they can explain it to a prosecutor and a judge.

Conversely, if you were a willing party when your son-in-law said something to the effect of "Dad, our neighbors are looking for a truck like yours and that would fit their needs perfectly", then he didn't "sell" it from under you - YOU sold it, and blaming him on a public website is pretty rude.
Posted by: RoadTrip | Dec 9, 2013 7:55:09 AM

Something is not adding up. I believe Larry concocted the "sold out from under me" story because he was more interested in saving face then telling the truth.

He had been telling us for the past couple years that until he can get "all of this" (a long list of items) that he was happy with his truck and would drive it to 200k miles and beyond.

That didn't happen and he bought basically the same truck again. Throw in a little buyer's remorse and an exaggeration about using a step ladder or being too short for a full-size. And the sold out from under story is presented.

Is the person who sold the car on the title? And if you actually signed the title over, then it was you who sold the truck out from under yourself. Have the guts to admit this and stop blaming your family members for your own personal failures. This is passive agressive behavior.

To the son in law, you have to confront Larry. He doesn't know how to respond appropriately on a public forum and is denying everything about the selling the truck.

Not confronting Larry's passive-aggressive behavior will only reinforce it. Confront him immediately and let him know you are confused by the behavior to write such a story online. If he values the relationship, he has to stop doing this.

Don't let Larry get away with this.

Either Larry has defamed his son-in-law or the son in law is a fhief. Which is it?

If I was the bsemirched son in law I would confront him!

Mike is correct. IF you don't use a pickup to haul heavy or live in a warm climate a small pickup is perfect for you. I used to own a 1995 Nissan and it failed me many times when I needed deep snow traction. I haul coal and firewood and the more I can haul the less trips I need to make. When it comes to 4x4 deep snow traction everything is about the heavy weight of the truck. 4X4 is useless when there's no weight pressing down on the road. In my opinion any mini pickup with 4x4 is a waste of money cause its useless. Dodge used to make a near perfect small pickup called The Dakota, it was built heavy with a bigger bed.

@Tom - any pickup is too light in the rear empty so what's your point?

Deep snow traction?

All depends on the type of snow and how deep it is.

I used to get a Christmas tree every year with the Ford Ranger I owned. I couldn't do it with my 3/4 ton as it was too wide and too heavy and would sink or break through the crust on the trails.
The same little truck was vastly superior to any stoclk or mildly modified full sized truck offroad. I prefered full sized everywhere else.
You keep throwing out broad generalizations. A full sized truck tends to have an advantage if you got to push through snow that is soft and not super deep and have good traction under the wheels. The width and length is also an advantage as that makes for a more stable platform at speed.

The truck that best fits your individual needs is the best truck for you whether it happens to be large, small, or medium. I know farmers and contractors that would find the typical full size half ton crew cab pickup too small and inadequate for their needs. Again get what best fits your needs and get what you like.

@Jeff S

Very true.

Off topic: I wish this site had a thumbs up/down feature for comments. I'd have gave yours a big thumbs up.

pro-4x you are absoultly right Ford has dropped the ball big time Up until a few years ago my family owned Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury franchise. We sold out(after generartions) when ford decided "super stores" were more important than super satisfied customers. Lucky me. when my Taurus finaly gave out I gave Nissan a chance and bought a versa it was great 35 mpg in city. long story short went to get a truck last December 2013 tried to buy a ford but to get enough torque and power were i would be happy I would have had to buy f series. well test drove frontier blew F away. the f series was stripped Mynew feontier maxed out for same price. I live in a city so full sized is a bad idea when parking the frontier has the backup camera prob solved. I tow my trailer full lof harleys and misc stuff through the mountains. I know all that can stop this beast in its tracks is a gas station. think opec owns the frontier franchise.
pson not buying four wheel drive to save money remember that when you trade. here in Virginia two wheel drives have to be took to the Carolinia's to trade or sale.

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